What to do when all owners can't be found?

For the third time I have found a property where the found heirs want to sell but there are 1 or 2 heirs that will not respond or can’t be found. What do you do in these instances? I recently read about partition suits where a case is brought to court and a forced sale is made. But this can cost not only court costs but also attys fees. (And from what i read 2 - 6 months. And if I understood correctly the court handles sale thru an auction with a set starting price. Although I told sellers about this option but they are keen to sell to me since I have been working with them for 2 months trying to locate everyone.)). Last quote I received for a partition was $3000 in fees. But the 3 heirs (that responded and want to sell) only stand to make +/- $7000 because of large amount of back taxes which are accumulating interest and penalty every week.

Has anyone found any creative methods for selling a house without all available parties?? Has anyone done a partition suit?

One weird idea I read about was to loan the parties money and then foreclose on house when they don’t pay. But this doesn’t seem like an idea that would win over sellers, even motivated ones!!


When you have a property owned by multiple parties no party can hold another hostage in the deal from selling and cashing out, with that said generally the three who want to sell need to give the other two first opportunity to buy the property out.

Now in the event the property is to be sold it needs to be listed and sold for fair market value! Where your hoping for a deal all owners are entitled to a retail market sale maximizing there net returns!

The other two owners won’t and are not required by law to respond to you! They do however need to respond to each owner wishing to sell and work out a purchase to buy out sellers or agree to list the property for sale for market value.

The three sellers can not sell to you without the house being listed and priced independently by a realtor to maximize sellers net proceeds! The five have to agree on a strategy but to avoid conflicts of interest will need to be done at arms length!


Thanks gold river,
However the unresponsive parties are not talking to anyone. Their relatives nor me. I have mailed letters, they have tried to call. One doesn’t have a valid contact number. The house is going up for tax sale in a few weeks.

In my correspondence I have told them that although I am interested in the house, if you are not interested in selling house you do have other options such has paying the minimum to get the house out of the tax sale. Then the family will have more time to decide on what to do with the house. That was 2 months ago and no one has done anything.

A story told by Phill Grove the Texas “Sub to” Guru was hilarious. The sellers were holed up in the house and refused to leave after he purchased it. They claimed the purchase contract was void cuz of a fraudulent signature. He even tried to get the bank to foreclose cuz he got the property sub-to and wanted to collect from title insurance.

Finally in desperation he offered them 10 Grand in cash to vacate. One of the relatives was on the run from the law and he had to hide the contract in a park overnight to get that signature. Then he rented a U-Haul truck and parked it out front and gave them some days to get their butts out. At one point him and the wife wer driving by to check progress and the sleaziest of the relatives ran out to the street flagging him down and asking for the keys to the truck so he cud go to store for a pack of ciggs.

He says they didnt start moving till the same day they had to be out and then Phill drove that truck to the trailer park where they had somehow managed to get a mobile home.

I have gone through similar situations with not getting the heirs to corporate with one another and there never really seems to bet a straight forward solution. The same goes for finding vacant properties and no way to get a hold of the owner. I just found a lawyer and a private investigator (to find missing owners,heirs) that are willing to get paid on the contingency of us closing on the property. This seems like the best way to get things done and the deal closed. It was a challenge to find these professionals that are willing to work on that contingency but if you can find some that will do that for you that will probably be your best option.


Check county website tax accessors
Do a reverse lookup www.411.com
Call the neighbors

I assume the missing heirs stand to make a bit of money from the sale and that you told them what they would make in your letters – as a bit of motivation for them?

Re probate property having to be listed with agent before selling – we have purchased several probates here in the KC area where the properties were never listed. I believe the court just had to agree to remove the property from the probate process. The sellers have handled that so I’ve never actually got involved in that process.

Use an online background search for a few dollars. I just get a monthly subscription so I always have it.

If you have a good connection at a Title company you can see if they can help do a quick search. Lots of tools out there online too. Some free, some paid.